Do you consider looking for work over the holidays to be a waste of time? Do you figure companies don't usually hire in December... so why bother? Are you planning on staying home, sipping eggnog and taking a long winter's nap?
Well, if these thoughts have crossed your mind, think again. December is actually the very best time of year to look for work and there are four reasons why this is true:
#1 Your competition levels drop. Many job-seekers abandon their search over the holidays leaving far fewer applicants in the candidate pool. This fact alone is good reason to keep plugging away because you're far more likely to get noticed when the competition thins.
#2 Hiring takes off after the first of the year. Just as we write up our individual list of New Year's resolutions, organizations generally start fresh in early January. Budgets are put into place and new projects and initiatives are launched. These ventures often require additional staff so hiring begins to take off. Therefore, by effectively marketing your skills as a candidate in December, you'll find yourself first in line to be contacted for that all-important interview in January.
#3 Opportunities to socialize abound. Parties, gatherings, and industry and community events provide prime opportunities to mix and mingle and tell your story. Remember, your aim is to remain social and not overtly push your own agenda too hard. Nevertheless, if you use a light touch, you can and should socialize with your job search goals in mind. (Look for my follow-up piece that will provide tips on how to effectively network at parties and get your point across without appearing boorish or pushy.)
#4 The holidays are a great time to reconnect with old contacts. Holiday cards and newsy letters are not only welcomed, they're expected. Done correctly, they can be a great way of securing new leads and opportunities. After sharing the latest about your family, you can mention your job search and a few of the companies you're targeting. Then, in a low-key manner, you can let your friends know that you'd appreciate any suggestions or contacts they might have. You can even follow up when you meet them at various gatherings (again approaching the topic lightly) or contact them after the first of the year to see if they've got any ideas for you.
You can also send holiday greetings to recruiters you've worked with in the past, reconnect and update them on your search. Recruiters are busy people and can easily forget candidates. So your greeting may well put you at the top of their minds in a favorable light. And, if you're very lucky, they might have the ideal job cross their desk just as your greeting appears in their inbox.
As a savvy job-seeker, you'll want to be certain to take full advantage of all this very special time of year has to offer. Above all, while you're celebrating the season, make your presence known as the competent, attractive, can-do candidate everyone wants to meet.
Serendipity abounds in December -- so keep your job search goals in mind, present yourself with confidence and anticipate success. You might well be ringing in the New Year with a brand new job!
Mary Eileen Williams is a Nationally Board Certified Career Counselor with a Master's Degree in Career Development and twenty years' experience assisting midlife jobseekers to achieve satisfying careers. Her book, Land the Job You Love: 10 Surefire Strategies for Jobseekers Over 50, is a step-by-step guide that shows you how you can turn your age into an advantage and brand yourself for success. Recently updated, it's packed with even more information aimed at providing mature applicants with the tools to gain the edge over the competition and successfully navigate the modern job market. Visit her website at Feisty Side of Fifty.com and celebrate your sassy side!